Art Object is a group exhibition about realism and the dynamic relationship between artworks and their referents. Each work interprets objects, images, or processes from the world, cycling from the real to the art object and back without settling in one place.

The exhibition’s title is a direct translation of “objet d’art,” "work of art” in French, which has evolved to cover small collectibles, ornaments that are neither exactly art nor functional object. The exhibition embraces this sense of things being neither and both, featuring artworks that repurpose definitions of design and art; works that appear to be “of the world” and yet unreal at the same time. Art Object is concerned with what an expanded sense of realism can be.

Nicholas Buffon presents a series of works on panel that resemble iPhones and iPads with their home screens displaying artworks: a detail from Thomas Eakins’ “The Swimming Hole” of frolicking naked young men is accompanied by a sketch of the shot being taken; an image of queer artist Luther Price performing as an abject clown character; and a painting of intertwining mythical male figures by pioneering homo-erotic artist George Quaintance. Buffon’s images of images pose the question: Are desire and identity dissipated or bolstered by passing through multiple prisms of mediation?

Choey Eun Young Cho presents iconographic LED lightworks, including a number from her Bananananana series of bananas in different colors and differing degrees of abstraction, and a simplified hamburger that channels corporate design. The artist’s works fuse image, icon, and language in ways reminiscent of Chinese characters or logograms. The works reduce recognizable objects to minimal yet legible lines of light; they can also be intensely personal: “banana” here refers to a slur used against people not deemed to be authentically Asian.

Barb Choit presents colored-pencil drawings of items for sale on eBay, including earrings, guitar picks, and scarves. The works are based on the artist’s archive of photographs from Ebay listings, and they channel the genre of colored-pencil art that has developed a devoted following online. Choit’s drawings resemble illustrations of figurative sculptures or abstract paintings: by aestheticizing the everyday, she gives her images and the objects they refer to what philosopher Walter Benjamin calls the “aura of authenticity,” in a sense reverse-engineering their infinite reproducibility within the conventions of amateur artistic practice.

Joan Heemskerk presents “Prototype,” an internet-based work that visualizes the possibilities of quantum computing. Resembling a microscopic virus or a strange planetary body, the work translates a stream of characters generated from satellite data. Superseding the on-off mechanism of conventional computing, Heemskerk uses color and 3D imaging to imagine a non-binary digital realm. While the work’s dynamic central image is built on information from the real word, its form seems to floats free from its referents.

Danny McDonald assembles toys, figures, models, among other found elements, to create sculptures that are both humorous and disturbing. He brings diverse elements together that seem made for one other—a foam pumpkin, for instance, seems to fit naturally into two dark masks. The artist’s orchestrations of found objects have intense representational possibilities that can produce dramatic and intriguing collisions and coalescences.

Travess Smalley presents geometric textiles that combine chance and design. His hand-woven rugs are based on images generated by software that he programs. The works embody a number of apparent contradictions, moving constantly on a spectrum of opposing poles they are both handmade and digital; scripted and random; abstractions and discrete objects; artworks and furnishings.

Nicholas Buffon (Seattle, WA, 1987) lives and works in New York. He holds a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA, and an MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Recent exhibitions include: “Indoor Dining,” Marinaro Gallery, New York, NY (2022); “Nicholas Buffon: The Great Outdoors,” One River School, Millburn, NJ (solo)(2021); “Gay New York: Walt Whitman to the Present, Poets House, New York, NY (solo); “Nicholas Buffon: Vehicles,” Callicoon Fine Arts, New York, NY (solo)(both 2019); “FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art,” Akron Art Museum, Cleveland, OH (2018); and “The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin,” The Jewish Museum New York, NY (2017).

Choey Eun Young Cho (Seoul, South Korea, 1985) grew up in Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, USA, and lives in Seoul. She holds a MFA from The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, and a BFA and BA in Art History from the University of Nebraska Omaha. Recent exhibitions include: “Tiny Pedestal,” Dream Clinic Project Space, Columbus, OH; “Being a Stranger Being Made a Stranger which is the tragedy?” Sunview Luncheonette, Brooklyn, NY (solo); “Principles of Existence,” New York Art Residency and Studios Foundation, Brooklyn, NY (all 2022); and “Transtemporal Reaction,” Roy G Biv Gallery, Columbus, OH (solo)(2020). She has attended residencies at the Banff Centre, Banff, Alberta, Canada, and MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA.

Barb Choit (Vancouver, BC, Canada) lives and works in Vancouver and New York City. She holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA; and MA in Modern Art and Curatorial Studies from Columbia University, New York, NY; and a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver, BC. Selected exhibitions include: “100 Lot Contemporary Handmade Art Drawings NEW Wall Art Home Décor Work on Paper,” Macaulay & Co Fine Art, Vancouver, BC (solo)(2018); and “PRONK,” Rawson Projects, New York, NY (solo)(2015-2016).

Joan Heemskerk (Kaatsheuvel, The Netherlands,1968) lives and works in Dordrecht, NL. She is a member of the pioneering collective JODI. Recent exhibitions include: “PROTOTYPE,” NRW Female Artist Award, online (solo); “Worlds of Networks,” Centre Pompidou, Paris (both 2022); “Chameleon,” Folia, Berlin (solo); “GeoGoo,” Société, Berlin, Germany (solo)(both 2021); “Collection 1970s–Present,” MoMA, New York (2019-2020); “Cultural Matter: Max Payne Cheats Only,” Lima, Amsterdam, NL (solo): and “404 Schrott aller Art,” NKTaxi, Noordkaap, Akademie der Künste der Welt, Cologne, Germany (solo)(all 2019).

Danny McDonald (Los Angeles, CA, 1971) lives and works in New York City and graduated from The Cooper Union, New York, in 1992. Recent exhibitions include: “Danny McDonald,” 80WSE, New York, NY (solo)(2022); “Thirteen Uneasy Pieces,” Gaga, Mexico City, Mexico (solo)(2022); “Search Parameters,” Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin, Germany (solo)(2018); “Danny McDonald: The Beads & Other Objects,” Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, Germany (solo); and “Danny McDonald – Nightmare Scenarios,” House of GAGA, Los Angeles, CA (solo)(both 2017).

Travess Smalley (Huntington, WV, 1986) lives and works in Providence, RI. He holds a BFA from The Cooper Union, New York, NY, and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI. Exhibitions include: “Des champs de fraises pour l’éternité,” La Galerie, centre d’art contemporain de Noisy-le-Sec, Noisy-le-Sec, France (2022); “Minecraft Language Edition,” Ender Gallery in collaboration with MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, SK, Canada (solo)(2021); “Pixel Rugs,” Arcade On Stadium, Provo, UT (solo)(2021); “Downtown Painting,” Peter Freeman Inc., New York, NY (2019); and “Standing Still, Lying Down, As If,” Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit, MI (2018-2019).

Photography: Charles Benton.


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